Need for speed driving animals to an early grave in Karnataka

Need for speed driving animals to an early grave in Karnataka

Submitted by alvin on Fri, 2016-06-03 10:26 Bengaluru: The ban on traffic passing through Bandipur tiger reserve during night has reduced the roadkill of animals, but with the ban not in place elsewhere cases of animals being mowed down by speeding vehicles are increasing.For example, the situation in forests adjoining Goa is looking grim. A gaur was knocked down by a speeding vehicle at Kankumbi near Khanapur in Belgavi district in 2014. It was followed by two more animal deaths: a king cobra was crushed to death in February 2015 and a leopard in November 2015 came under the wheels. All these incidents occurred on State Highway (SH) 31, which connects Belagavi and Chorla.This is just one of three SHs passing through forests here. The situation on other two SHs — SH34 (Alnavar-Ramanagar), which cuts through Nagaragali forest and SH 30 (Sindhanoor-Hemmadga), which bisects Bhimgad wildlife sanctuary — is not much better. In fact, SH 34 has recorded highest wildlife deaths, with several chitals becoming victims of speeding vehicles since 2013. A sloth bear was killed in December 2015. On National Highway 4A, which connects Belagavi to Goa, it is not just animals but even human beings have been either knocked down or killed in vehicle collisions. “At least 10-15 large mammals have been killed on these stretches. It is high time the concerned authorities acted,” said Giridhar Kulkarni, a wildlife activist monitoring the deaths of animals. He said deaths of smaller animals, reptiles and birds had not been included in the list of roadkill.The problem is not unknown to the forest department, as it has repeatedly appealed to the Public Works Department as well as Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KLRDCL) to install rumblers, speed-breakers and sign-boards. “This was brought to the notice of concerned agencies during the wildlife co-ordination meeting on October 28, 2015 and again on February 2016. The department has explained its concern regarding the death of animals. Though they have agreed to slow down speeding vehicles, nothing has been done,” said an official from the forest department.  To make the matter worse, the NH4A is all set to be widened. Wildlife activists feel the stretch of the road which passes through the forests of Kali Tiger Reserve shouldn’t be widened.“The department is making sincere efforts to protect wildlife, but there is not much support from other agencies. We will now request the Deputy Commissioner to take a serious action against these line departments,” said Kulkarni.The subcommittee appointed by Ministry of Environment and Forests had suggested several mitigation measures like imposing speed restrictions, construction of underpasses at several junctions and installation of signage. But those measures are yet to be implemented.Earlier, the Executive Engineer of KRDCL Project Office, Hubli, had instructed the Project Manager of GVRMP-Dharwad-Ramnagar Tollway Pvt.Ltd to take safety and speed restriction measures immediately and submit the action taken report, but the user agency has not at all followed his note.